World Health Organization recognizes burnout as medical condition

Feeling tired or stressed at work could have a significant impact on your health. The World Health Organization is now recognizing "professional burnout" as a medical condition. 

Burnout refers specifically to symptoms in the occupational context, and doctors must rule out things like adjustment or mood disorders before making the diagnosis.  

As writer Lorna Pecard scopes out the bonzai trees inside the Japanese garden at the Como Zoo and Conservatory, she reflects.

“I like to take some time to relax, hang out with friends and family and go see cool stuff,” Pecard said. “I just finished my master’s in fine arts and poetry, so I have some experience with burnout and dealing with that.”

Manuel Becerra also feels the effects of burnout. 

“I’m a teacher, so I see that as something that’s a problem, so I think we need to deal with it,” he said.

According to the WHO, burnout results from chronic workplace stress that hasn't been successfully managed.

It's characterized by exhaustion, cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy. 

“Americans more and more are working through their vacation days, forfeiting them, and it just exacerbates the potential for burnout,” said Allina Health Psychologist Cheryl Bemel.

Bemel suggests just taking a break, whether to a nearby escape or just at your desk.

“I can just concentrate on the noise of the water or looking at the flowers or looking at nature, I think that’s what helps a lot, Manuel Becarra said.

The key is to ultimately remember -- we work to live.

“If we’re not able to have joy in our life, then how in the world are we going to be able to get the job done?” Bemel said.

To avoid burnout, the American Stress Institute recommends identifying and confronting stressors whenever possible, even if that means talking to your supervisor. They also say it's important to develop resilience to stress through yoga, tai chi, or simply taking walks. 

More information about the science of stress and stress management techniques can be found at